I Don't Like Mondays — October 26, 2015
A great artist will tell you that he/ she needs many different brushes to paint a masterpiece. Wide bristles. Narrow bristles. Flats and points, filberts and shaders… even mop brushes. Because it takes all sorts of strokes to complete a great picture.
Now let us extend that ponderous metaphor to the Toronto Blue Jays, whose efforts at painting a baseball masterpiece came undone in Kansas City on Friday night. Since re-loading at the midseason trade deadline, the Blue Jays became a massive roller brush, going over top of the opposition with their crushing offence, painting everyone blue. It got them to the playoffs for the first time since Joe Buck’s act on FOX seemed fresh. Yes, that long.
But the postseason is the time of inside baseball, the more subtle shadings of the hardball canvas. Home runs are nice, but if you can’t move men along in the order, can’t advance runners into scoring position, can’t get a runner in from third with fewer than two outs… well, you end up like the Jays, flying home from Missouri with a suitcase of “what ifs?”
While the Kansas City Royals were an awesome outfit this October, they were aided by Toronto’s fundamental failures in the series. The ultimate demonstration of the failure at the small craft came in Game Six. Time after time, the Jays left runners stranded, threw to the wrong cutoff man, got beaten on a pitcher’s third-best pitch.
There was no pattern. These sins of commission and omission came from veterans and rookies alike. After the orgy of scoring in the regular season it was assumed that the team might assume it would still work against the playoff-hardened Royals. And you know what happens when you assume? You hit into the 6-4-3 double play.
Clearly the Blue Jays 2016 lineup needs a few more players who can play small ball, situational baseball. In addition, the Jays need to supply John Gibbons— or whoever is managing the team— with a deeper pitching staff. It was fair to say that Gibbons truly trusted at most four or five of the men supplied to him on his staff by the end of the playoff in KC.
We’re expecting news on the retention of Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos by week’s end. If he stays, Gibbons stays. And the work on small brush strokes can begin. If AA leaves, however, there may be much paint spilled before the picture becomes clear again.
NBC’s lead NFL anchor Al Michaels is confused about what constitutes a catch under the NFL’s byzantine rule book. “You tell me,” Michaels said after a disputed interception in Sunday’s Eagles/ Panthers game. “I don’t know what a catch is, I don’t know what an interception is.”
Michaels has plenty of company. In an attempt to juice its offensive production the league has constantly fiddled with what constitutes a catch and interference. For example, if you go to the ground as you enter the end zone on a pass you must secure the ball through landing. But if you run across you only have to break the plane of the goal line with the ball.
Mutual possession goes to the offensive player. If you fumble the ball through the end zone before entering, it’s a touchback and loss of possession. Unless a defensive player bats it out of the end zone. Or, if you’re in Seattle, they don’t pay attention to any rules in the end zone. The mind boggles.
Maybe instead of creating more penalties and video replays the NFL should do something simple if it wants more offence. Imitate the CFL and NCAA by making it a catch if the player has just one foot in bounds. Simpler is always better. Although judging by the avalanche of scoring this past weekend the NFL might want to give the defence a chance again.
So should a player look at the scoreboard to see how he or his team are doing? In every sport the answer is a resounding yes. But not in golf. Players regularly go into the isolation tank as they play. That made Golfchannel on NBC anchor Gary Koch shake his head this weekend
After hearing a couple of young players near the lead at the Shriners Hospitals Open say they hadn’t followed the scoreboards, Koch vented. Maybe that’s what they’re being told by their sports psychologist, Koch fumed, don’t look at scoreboard, just play your own game etc. But in what other sport do you ignore the score?
Koch pointed out an example on the 18th hole when rookie Patton Kazire failed to notice he needed a birdie to tie eventual winner Smylie Kauffman. Kazire laid up to the front of the deep green negating the birdie chance. “If you can’t stand the heat of knowing the score,” said the usually mild-mannered Koch, “maybe you should get out of the game.”
Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy @NPBRoadcaster